Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Why People Suck

To commemorate Silence is Violence Night, someone posted signs around town that said simply, "Crime Happened Here," and under the slogan, the date and the crime. It's a startling graphic way of marking how much crime takes place and where it happens, and it reminds us that the police know where crime happens because they keep records (theoretically) and we don't. The next day, some neighbors fretted about the signs because they worried they'd affect someone's effort to sell their house. They issue evidently didn't bother them enough to be glad the sign's up, nor did have the common sense to take the signs down. After all, Silence is Violence Night was over. It was better to grouse and feel put upon than to deal with the signs in one way or another.

Today's Times-Picayune picks up a similar thought. Jefferson Parish officials now want to regulate roadside memorials for traffic-related fatalities:

Scheduled for a vote at Wednesday's Parish Council meeting, the ordinance would require council approval before a memorial could be erected on public property.

The flowers and crosses would have to be removed after 90 days and would be limited to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. Anyone erecting a memorial without a permit could face criminal charges under the ordinance, which, if adopted, would become part of a nationwide crackdown on roadside memorials in recent years.

That means you'd have to wait for a parish council meeting to get approval for expressions of grief. And there's nothing grieving family members really want to do more than bang heads with parish-level politicians. The article continues:

D.J. Mumphrey, an executive assistant to Broussard, said the proposal addresses persistent complaints about roadside markers that have remained years after the crash or are so elaborate that they interfere with drivers' sight lines.

"We are sensitive to the desire of families to memorialize their loved ones," he said. "But some of these things have been up for years and years and are so big that they become a safety hazard."

If there really are crazy-huge memorial markets somewhere nearby, I want a map because I want to see them. Obviously it sounds like the main issue is Jeff Parish residents worried about their property values, but I wonder if there isn't also another issue at play. Could hostility to roadside memorials also have something to do with our culture's unease with grief, and even people who dealt with Katrina-related loss would rather have others who lost loved ones get over it and move on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Times Picayine article regarding the proposed ordinance in Jefferson Parish was not entirely accurate. The ordinance did not say that Council approval was required before the placement of a memorial. It said that Council approval was required within 30 days of the placement of a memorial. There is a difference.

I have actually read the ordinance, and I am close with the person who drafted it. The ordinance was based on a number of similar ordinances from around the country. Jefferson Parish is certainly not the first place to consider regulation. There are states where it is illegal to place any roadside memorial at all!!

Maybe it's not property values that memorial opponents care about. My opinion on the subject is that I don't need someone else's problems shoved at me. Grief should be a personal thing, and nobody should expect to take over a piece of public property for their own morbid wishes. Deal with grief privately. I have my own problems, and my own losses. I don't need or want to be reminded of those of others.